By Curt Yeomans
The sixth installment in the Harry Potter movie franchise is scheduled to be released this summer, but Janice Arcuria is hoping children will spend some time, during their break from school, reading the books upon which the film series is based.
She would like to see them reading any book, newspaper, magazine, cook book or comic book for that matter.
Arcuria, the assistant director of youth services for the Clayton County Library System, said it is important to emphasize reading in a world where young people have the option of playing video games, going to the movies, or playing team sports during the summer months.
Arcuria's youth services department will launch its annual youth vacation reading program on Saturday. The program will last through Aug. 8.
"We think people will be life-time readers if they enjoy reading," Arcuria said. "Children spend the entire school year reading their textbooks, or novels that they are required to read for a class. We would like for them to read for pleasure during the summer so they can begin to build an enjoyment of reading."
Children - or their parents - can begin picking up reading logs Saturday at any of the library system's six branches, Arcuria said. She added that children can receive a free paperback book if they either read 18 books, or read for nine hours. The youths must use their reading logs to keep track of how much reading they are doing, Arcuria said.
Last year, 6,271 youths participated in the vacation reading program, with 1,969 of the children receiving a free book, according to library data.
Arcuria said younger children who have not yet learned how to read can meet the reading requirement by having books read to them.
The library will also host a number of programs throughout the summer to encourage children to come to the library and read a book. These programs include story-time hours, a cooking class, puppet shows, and arts and crafts sessions.
"As a society, we have elected to not promote reading as much as we should," Arcuria said. "That's why librarians have to put on the most interesting displays. They [libraries] are like stores. You have to get them [patrons] in the door, and then show them what else you have."
Some of the books which are given to youth program readers are donated by the Scholastic book company, while others are purchased with money donated by the Kiwanis Club of Southlake. Scholastic officials make donations in an amount equal to a portion of sales from half-off sales held twice a year at the library system's headquarters branch, 865 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro, Arcuria said.
The next Scholastic Half-Off book sale will be held June 9-16.
Arcuria said the library system's book circulation for the first nine months of fiscal year 2009 is up by nearly 5,000 books from a year ago. From July 2007 to March 2008, the library system had a circulation of 520,152 books, according to system-wide data. The data shows that from July 2008 to March of this year, the circulation had increased to 525,140 books.
Arcuria said she believes the state of the nation's economy has played a role in the increased book circulation. "Traditionally, library use has gone up in economic downturns," Arcuria said. "People are looking to cut their expenses. One of the things people do is stop buying as many books, because they can come here and rent books for free."
The library system's branches are located at 865 Battle Creek Road, Jonesboro; 696 Main Street, Forest Park; 124 Smith Street, Jonesboro; 1721 McDonough Road, Hampton; 6225 Maddox Road, Morrow, and 420 Valley Hill Road, Riverdale.
For more information on the vacation reading program, call Arcuria at (770) 210-5238.
On the net:
Clayton County Library System: http://www.claytonpl.org/